There is no hotter commodity in football than a game-changing quarterback.
And when those passers aren’t content with their landing spot, the market can resemble the most volatile of days on the floors of Wall Street.
“You’ve got a graduate transfer there? BUY! Second-year quarterback third on the depth chart? SELL!”
LSU and Auburn are in the top 15 and starting quarterbacks that transferred from other Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Oregon’s opening-day starters in 2015 and 2016 came from Big Sky Conference teams.
Boise State appears likely to start senior Montell Cozart on Thursday against New Mexico after junior Brett Rypien left Saturday’s loss at Washington State with an injury late in the first quarter. Cozart joined the team this summer as a graduate transfer from Kansas.
“It’s an interesting position, especially at this level,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “... Those guys want to play, and if they’re not, then sometimes they get frustrated and want to go find a spot.”
The Broncos have seen the never-settled quarterback exchange up close, as five of their scholarship players at the position have left since December 2015. One is a starter at an FBS school, two are at FCS programs, one is a Division II starter and the other is at a junior college.
Even including junior college signees, the last quarterback to complete his eligibility for the Broncos was Grant Hedrick, who signed in the 2010 class.
Having Rypien as a starter since he took over as a true freshman for an injured Ryan Finley in the third game of the 2015 season certainly is a factor in the instability, but the likes of Bush Hamdan, Mike Coughlin, Hedrick and Joe Southwick stuck around while they were behind Kellen Moore.
“It makes it a little bit difficult in recruiting, but the guys you want to recruit are the guys that throw their shoulders up and say: ‘I don’t care. Are you going to give me an opportunity to play?’ ” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
Of the top 50 quarterbacks in 247Sports’ recruiting rankings in the recruiting classes from 2011 to 2014, 100 of the 200 wound up transferring, including 52.9 percent of three-star quarterbacks.
For a second straight year, Boise State finds itself with three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, and one of them is a true freshman the Broncos hope to redshirt. The Broncos were able to do that last season with Jake Constantine, but he left the team last month. Harsin said Monday if Rypien can’t play, true freshman Chase Cord will back up Cozart, though he said Cord is a “guy you hope you can redshirt.”
“This isn’t Boise State — this is in general, I talk to a lot of coaches,” Harsin said. “I don’t know how much of it is the players as much as it is the outside noise that they let creep into their heads — ‘you should be doing this, you should be doing that.’ Even their parents. When you have somebody that’s in front of you, whatever happened to learning, preparing, waiting for your opportunity?”
With Cozart having only one season to play, the Broncos are hoping to have four scholarship quarterbacks next year. Harsin said “having three gets tight” and though the Broncos often had five in the past, he said that is too many, with a scholarship that could be used at a spot like running back or receiver. Corner Canyon High (Utah) quarterback Zach Wilson is committed already, and Harsin plans to sign another passer, likely from a junior college or as a transfer from another four-year program.
“The culture in the quarterback position now, all over the place, you see guys get in fall camp or spring ball, if they don’t come out as the guy, they want to go somewhere else,” Harsin said. “I don’t agree with that. I think you stick things out. You keep working because you never know.”
Luckily for Boise State, it has one of those “stick it out” types of quarterbacks in Cozart. He spent four seasons at Kansas during which the Jayhawks won eight games. A two- or three-quarterback system is what he was used to. If he’s the lone quarterback who plays Thursday night, that will be just the second time that’s happened in his 30 career college football games.
“He’s handled himself really well,” Hill said. “Whoever starts on Thursday, we have complete confidence in.”
Harsin said of Cozart, “We love that he’s on this football team.”
Cozart announced in February he intended to transfer but didn’t commit to Boise State until May after the Broncos let go of junior college transfer Rathen Ricedorff, who failed a drug test for PEDs. It’s safe to say in that case, the Broncos traded up in the market.
But after Constantine left, and with Rypien’s injury, the mobile Cozart may take a big hit and force the Broncos’ hand to put in Cord. The coaches hope he can learn like a starter, but not be pressed into duty.
“That would be a perfect situation, but we’re just not in that,” Harsin said.
When it comes to quarterbacks, that goes for a lot of places.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Five former Boise State scholarship quarterbacks still would have eligibility but are no longer on the roster:
Alex Ogle: Left the team in December 2015, currently starter at Tusculum (Tenn.) College
Ryan Finley: Left the team in April 2016, currently starter at North Carolina State
Tommy Stuart: Left the team in December 2016, currently starter at Duquesne
Rathen Ricedorff: Kicked off the team in April, currently on Weber State’s roster
Jake Constantine: Left the team in August, co-starter at Ventura (Calif.) College
Note: Boise State’s quarterback recruits in 2011 (Jimmy Laughrea) and 2012 (Nick Patti) also transferred to play at other schools.
New Mexico at Boise State
When: 6 p.m. Thursday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf); the team will wear all-orange uniforms, fans are asked to wear orange, too
TV: ESPN (Dave Flemming, Brock Huard, Laura Rutledge)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: BSU 1-1 (lost to Washington State 47-44 in 3OT); New Mexico 1-1 (lost to New Mexico State 30-28)
Series: Boise State leads 7-1 (beat Lobos 49-21 in Albuquerque last year)
Vegas line: Boise State by 16
Kickoff weather: Mid-60s, partly cloudy